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448                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
in check only by means of ships operating from a base, and
that it would put an end to the beneficent naval activity
of Russia if Ashurada were evacuated. As the Turkoman
would have immediately recommenced their raids if the
Russian ships had left, this argument would appear to
have had weight.
The Turkoman were by no means disposed to acquiesce
tamely in a new order which prevented their raids. In
1851 they surprised the island and killed or carried off its
garrison. It was given out—possibly in order to " save
face "—that these raiders had been assisted by Persia, and
the Russian representative demanded the dismissal of the
Shah's brother from the governorship of Mazanderan.
This demand sorely tried the Amir-i-Nizam, who held it
to be wholly unjustified, but after protesting strongly he
wisely yielded to the Northern Power.
The Fall of the Amir-i-Ni%am^ 1851—Nasir-u-Din
showed remarkable loyalty to his great Minister ; but, as
was only to be expected, the influence brought to bear,
which pointed out his undoubted popularity among the
soldiers, who knew that they owed their regular pay and
clothing to him, at length aroused the fears of the Shah.
Surrounding himself with his guards, he sent a messenger
to his Minister to inform him that he was no longer Vizier,
but only Commander of the army. This order was re- ,;
ceived with perfect submission, and Mirza Aga Khan, the *
Itimad-u-Dola, was appointed Sadr-i-Aazam. The fallen *
Amir-i-Nizam, but for ill-advised action on his behalf by
the Russian Minister, who declared him protected by the
Tsar and then withdrew from this position, might have
weathered the storm. But this intervention and the
intrigues of his enemies goaded the Shah to order him to
retire to Kashan. There, watched by his devoted wife, he
lived for two months, but it was then decided to execute him,
and he was seized by a ruse. In the bath of the beautiful
palace at Fin his veins were opened, and Persia's great
Minister passed away. It is said that people have the
rulers they deserve and, if so, Persia is to be sincerely
pitied ; for she is ruled, as Europe was in medieval times,
by officials whose main desire is to amass wealth per fas aut